Cancer Research Technology

Project overview

I love working with charities as it provides me with the opportunity of giving something back to society and there is a definite feel good factor to those types of projects. I was very excited to be approached by Conran Design Group to help with the development of new features for CRUK's commercial partnerships website. I now maintain the website directly and proud to have CRUK as one of my clients.

Objectives

The project involved Drupal SEO enhancements featuring advanced performance optimisation of the hosting environment and Drupal installation to make sure content was served quickly and efficiently to users. There were various issues with the site including broken links and server error pages being shown in place of actual content. URLs were also badly structured and confused with redirects pointing to broken pages and the wrong content. The scope of the project also required the creation of new functionality that would ease content creation and editorial control of existing content types.

What I did

Working with the lead front-end developer at Conran Design Group we were able to create a sensible strategy for the development and implementation of new functionality and features. I often receive requests for taking over the development of existing websites so I am fairly used to having to quickly get up to speed on how a previous developer has built a website. In certain circumstances this isn't an issue but with Drupal I have seen wildly different coding skills, and unfortunately, a lot of bad practice. I quickly surmounted the coding issues that were preventing me from fulfilling the brief and implemented the required changes with little fuss.

Site performance was significantly boosted by using a combination of Varnish cache and basic minification and aggregation of JavaScript, CSS and HTML files. This improved site load time by a factor of ten so was a significant boost to the sluggish load times previously experienced by the client. To further enhance the SEO capabilities of the site a full content hyperlink audit was carried out to find broken internal links and problem pages on the site where functionality was broken resulting in server error pages being shown to users instead of the desired content. Once the site audit was complete I fixed the broken pages and links and made sure such system issues would not be replicated in future.

New content types were also created to handle additional editorial controls for some basic user interface elements such as accordions and tabbed pages. Rudimentary improvements were also made to existing content types to enhance the editorial experience by making content management easy to use and amend.

Using GIT and Aqcuia Cloud the project was deployed in an iterative process whereby each issue or collection of related issues was assigned to a sprint that was then tested before being signed off and deployed to the live site.

Results

The Cancer Research Technology website is now much faster with no dead pages or messy URLs and has some nice new CMS features to enhance the editorial workflow for site administrators.

Testimonial

We employed Justin's highly accomplished Drupal skills for a few initiatives during 2014 and 2015. He is highly-professional at handling issues and developing sites in tandem with our in-house design and development teams. What really stood out was his conscientiousness and eye for detail, I can strongly recommend him.

– Ian Howlett | Head of Digital at Conran Design Group